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7 Genius Female Inventions You Use Every Day Without Realizing

Culture

Where would we be without the inventions of the great men of the world? Apple - Steve Jobs, the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell, the atomic bomb - Albert Einstein, the gun - Richard Gatling. Nowhere - right? But what about those more practical inventions, the ones that are necessity - those that you use unthinkingly every day?


Below are inventions by women that you could not live without - whether for sanity or vanity, everything below - from the dishwasher to the hairbrush, was invented by women for practicality and advantageous purposes. They go largely unrecognized now, because they are mostly objects or entities we take for granted, but SWAAY has decided to pause amidst the roaring tide of products and inventions that we could live without in 2017, to languish in the glory of those that we really couldn't survive without.

1

The Car Heater

Margaret Wilcox is the woman you have to thank for 1. de-fogging your windows and 2. keeping you toasty in sub-0 temperatures in your car. She was patented for the car radiator back in 1893 and how many lives/chilly journeys has she saved since? Millions. Try picture a car journey in December through the mountains, without a heater, cold right? All hail Wilcox for our fingers and toes getting through the chillier of seasons.

2

Wireless Technology

Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr became a trailblazer in the field of wireless communications when she moved to the U.S.

Working to combat Nazi transmissions during WWII, her and co-inventor George Anthiel warped radio frequencies to break difficult code. The invention would go on to prove extremely useful during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their work has now translated into tech such as wifi and bluetooth. She was the first female to receive the 'oscar' of inventor awards - the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award back in 1977.

3

The Computer Algorithm

Born Ada Gordon, but known as Ada Lovelace - child of the renowned poet Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella Milbanke, was 'the first computer programmer' to produce algorithms. Lovelace came across Charles Babbage, philosopher, mathematician and mechanical engineer, in her pursuit of a career in mathematics, and the pair would go on to become great friends. Babbage called Lovelace 'The Enchantress of Science', and indeed, she would be the first of all those working with him to produce the goods for his vision of the 'analytical engine', or computer. Her articles rendered the most sense and logic towards this dream machine and were the first published. The list of consequences that emerged from Lovelace's work is very literally endless. And yet it's Babbage's name that most will regognize - why? It was a recurring problem at the time and an analysis of a lot of female inventors will find that many hid in the shadows of the man or guardian or male co-inventor in their life, only to emerge now, in the whits of feminism for the praise and inspirational achievements.

4

The Refrigerator

Florence Parpart, a historical mystery, was indeed the inventor of the modern 'fridge'. In 1914, she won a second patent for the modern refrigerator. Apart was listed as a housewife in the U.S census for most of her life, although of course those few historical records pertaining to her inventions would have you believe otherwise. The thoughts of not having a fridge are baffling - what would happen to milk? How would you keep white wine or beer cold? How would one make ice? Where would you store chicken? How would you keep your brie from melting? Absurd.

5

The Hairbrush

Lyda Newman may not be the OG inventor of the hairbrush - she is however responsible for how it looks and feels today. This African-American introduced the synthetic bristles to the brush and got a patent for this invention back in 1898. Before Lyda, people were using Boar's hair to brush their locks. Lyda's bristles as we know them today collect the impurities in your hair - broken strands etc. and allow for easy removal after you've finished. They're also good for styling up-dos, backcombing, fluffing, coiffing and all other things one does with one's modern hairbrush.

6

The Dishwasher

Can you even imagine how many hours of your life you would spend washing your dirty dishes had Josephine Cochrane not invented the dishwasher back in 1886 while elbow deep in a tub of suds? It's unfathomable. Cochrane had been left in severe debt by husband William when inspiration struck after one of her servants broke some of her precious china. The industrial revolution had ended about 40 years previously and Cochrane had seen the fruits of this push for new machinations and inventions and thought why isn't there a machine to wash my dishes. She received her first patent in 1886 and sold all of her dishwashers by herself. A true businesswoman, and lifesaver.

7

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

Okay, so perhaps you could live without chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps you don't have a sweet-tooth. However, it is my firm belief that Ruth Graves Wakefield changed the world indelibly with her discovery back in 1930. Having served butterscotch nut cookies at her Toll House Inn, MA, she looked for something that would further please her customers, and added that perfect chip of sheer delight in the form of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate. Chocolate and cookies. What an intriguing combination, and one I will forever be indebted to Wakefield for.

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4min read
Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."